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What is the difference between the two adjectives: slick and sleek?
My dictionary returns almost the same explanation for both, like smooth and glossy.

Could someone explain when it would be more appropriate to use one or the other.
Thank you.

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Both mean smooth or seeming to be smooth.

To me, slick is more about touch: slippery, and sleek is more about sight/appearance. A wet moss-covered surface is slick. A satin skirt is sleek.

  • Yes, I think you're right. Sleek does seem to require vision, while slick is much more about tactile and balance sensations. Sleek curves is quite visual, whereas slick curves is either a metaphoric compliment or a reference to slipperiness. – John Lawler May 18 '14 at 2:24
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As a metaphorical descriptive, "slick" implies "sexy" (also in the metaphorical sense), and, as with real sex, what is considered "sexy" varies greatly from one observer and context to the next. I might consider a 20 pound bicycle to be "slick", while someone else would apply the adjective to a 1000 pound motorcycle. But the term, absent knowledge of the observer's preferences, implies nothing about the form of the object.

See Urban Dictionary:

slick
  Smooth, cool, awesome. 
  Luke is so slick

"Sleek", on the other hand, is somewhat more objective, though it may also be metaphorical. It refers to the shape and form of the entity, and means, basically, "streamlined" or "smooth and flowing". A fancy sports car will generally be considered "sleek".

  • Is your view that slick implies "sexy" based on any authority? No dictionary I know of shows even a hint of such a meaning for slick. – JK2 Dec 18 '17 at 5:09
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    @JK2: If you do a Google Images search for "slick", the very first image is of the Fonz from Happy Days. What more evidence do you need? ;-) – psmears Dec 18 '17 at 13:54
  • I'd say "slick" means more "clever and graceful" than "sexy", but freely admit the overlap is great. – The Nate Jan 6 '18 at 11:11

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